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Colombia-Venezuela crisis reaches a sensitive point

By Pedro Mario Burelli

21.01.05 | As Colombia prepares to deliver - once again - evidence of FARC/ELN presence in Bolivarian Venezuela, the world will have to hold its collective breath and wait for the fallout. Under normal circumstances the OAS would say something, but given that it has become nothing more than a fancy party venue, nada can be expected (plus its magnificent Constitution Avenue headquarters must be a mess in the aftermath of the Presidential Inauguration Ball held there last night). Once upon a time, the UN (that's the one with the nice building by the river in NY) would have seen the blatant harboring of terrorists in a highly volatile region as a matter of concern, but then today they are more interested in shielding Kofi Annan from the blow of the upcoming report on rampant corruption in the food-for-oil program that ended up benefiting Saddam more than others - at least till the US put an end to the scheme the hard way.

What about the neighbors? They might be concerned...but they will only act if it is to provide Chavez a final and definitive blow. If there is any chance the guy can survive and seek revenge by creating or funding more havoc in their domestic politics, they will play deaf, dumb or both. And the US? It became clear - once again - that Dr. Rice understands the problem (which means the President does too), but can she afford to please Chavez by making this seem like a Chavez vs. Bush bout? I doubt it, but on the other hand the US cannot afford to have Plan Colombia/Patriot blunted by the reckless behavior of this counterfeit revolutionary. So we will have to wait and see what they do in DC.

That leaves us with President Uribe and more importantly the people of Venezuela. Will they alone be able to corner a regime that has opted to side with criminals under the cover of a fraudulent oil fueled mandate? In my opinion, it might be possible. Uribe is as obstinate as Chavez, and as a survivor he can probably access the risk of doing nothing once he has let the cat out of the bag. And while Venezuelans might have split their vote when the option was Chavez or the putrid past, when it comes to harboring guerillas and letting them vote in our elections there might be a different reaction. Let the truth flow, assume a principled outrage from the international community and I am certain you could once again see tumultuous marches in the streets of Venezuela.

Finally, a word of caution. Fidel Castro will not allow his life support to be cornered and disconnected that easily. Expect that the fan will be promptly turned on to high and ALL sorts of counter allegations procured by the highly efficient G2 will further complicate the matter. PMB

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